Social Entrepreneur Index Nominee: Citadel Associates – Ignition Training Centre
David Brazer, Managing Director at Citadel Associates – Ignition Training Centre talks to us about his journey - how he got started, the challenges he faced, tips for aspiring entrepreneurs and his plans for the future.
What does your social enterprise do?
Citadel supports the most marginalised service users into employment, training and career support through innovative projects and interventions. Ignition Training is our flagship program. Ignition teaches motor vehicle repair skills to unemployed people and young people excluded from education.
What made you start your business up?
I had been managing another social enterprise which supported people with disabilities into employment. The service users I met through this work inspired me to set up my own social enterprise and I wanted to support a wider demographic of people through innovative projects.
How do you measure your impact?
We measure impact on a variety of measures including qualitative and quantitative measures from raising confidence and mental health, skills and accredited qualifications, further education and of course employment. We have secured employment for over 75 clients. We also use a cost-benefit analysis tool designed by the council which has shown us to have saved local services over £1 million
What help did you have to start your social enterprise?
I didn’t have any help to set up the Social Enterprise except a small fund which had to be spent on a feasibility study.
How did you decide on what legal form would work best for your business?
I asked a solicitor to help set up the company and told him I wanted it to be a social enterprise. He suggested the legal form.
What’s the best thing about being a social entrepreneur?
The difference I know I have made to thousands of people over the years. From starting off helping people into employment there have been so many other wide-ranging and unexpected results ranging from preventing crime, supporting other organisations, moving people from addiction, helping people with their first car, being told that we’ve changed people’s lives and most proudly saving peoples lives.
What has been your biggest challenge when setting up and running your social enterprise?
There have been so many challenges over the years keeping the money coming in, supporting a multitude of most marginalised service users and keeping the business afloat through many difficult times. The biggest challenge came last September as we were building a new training centre which was to house all of our projects within it and it burned down resulting in us losing everything. That was the greatest challenge I have ever faced but I decided to carry on and rented offices for the training to continue and set about restarting. I had the business up and running 30 days later.
What advice would you give to aspiring social entrepreneurs?
I have just written a book on the subject called "Anyone can do ‘Easy’" and in it, I give some of the tips that I feel are important:
Take the first step – Nothing happens until you do this
Success isn’t about can or can’t, it’s about will or won't
Don’t wait until you have all the skills you think you need, you will learn
What information sources would you recommend to help someone just starting their social enterprise journey?
My book, of course, "Anyone can do ‘Easy’ An Entrepreneurs Journey".
Simon Coulson "Intrepreneur: The Secrets of my Journey to becoming an Internet Millionaire" (I couldn’t put it down). Simon has made £20 million and bought the farm featured in Darling Buds of May.
Also www.businessballs, your local CVS, Chamber of Commerce and your local authority.
What are your plans for the next 2-5 years?
I have just started 2 new companies, Public Speakers college and ‘Unlimited Potential’ which will support new entrepreneurs. I also have plans for 2 more Ignition Training Centres, one in Sheffield and one in Hemsworth.